How are brands and publishers evolving their approach to storytelling in 2020?
The major trend I see is towards content-first approach. By this I mean the starting point of a story is simply the idea, and the channel or channels it is published in is irrelevant until later on. This is an approach gaining traction with a number of our customers. The benefit is that with a few layout tweaks the content can easily be repurposed for any channel, therefore giving greater ROI. This is the opposite of how some organizations are doing it - for example in some marketing departments you will have a social media team, which may come up with a piece of content or story just for Facebook. Or a publisher may be creating stories with a single channel or title in mind. Obviously, implementing a true content-first approach requires workflow and cultural changes.
Are there implications for technology too?
Yes. Often content-first is thought of as an organizational approach, but it is equally important to consider your systems and tools. A good example is how AI is used to apply metadata to digital assets and content. AI is often siloed in a channel in a similar way - often I see it applied only to assets or content that sits in a specific channel, such as a CMS. That to me is dangerous, as it locks that image or other content to that channel. A better approach is to enrich content with AI-powered metadata at the beginning of the content value chain, so it can be opened up to any channel. So a genuine content-first approach requires organizations to think about systems and tools too.
Do you see any trends specific to brands or publishers?
In the publishing world we are seeing innovative publishers taking a much more data-driven approach to content creation, management, and crucially, reuse. This approach can deliver big benefits as ad spend continues to drift away from traditional publishers. And that is where publishers can learn from marketers. While publishers generally see content reuse as a positive, since it reduces cost, few are really creating content with reuse in mind.
One publisher doing this really well is our customer Aller Media. They are pre-planning and creating content with reuse in different titles planned in from the start, as well as putting KPIs on everything they create. This is simultaneously reducing the volume of content required, while increasing the quality. That is only possible of course if publishers have centralized systems in which contributors across titles are working.